Rodney Sharman wins Walter Carsen Prize

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      Vancouver composer Rodney Sharman has just won the Canada Council for the Arts' Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts.

      The $50,000 prize recognizes the highest level of artistic excellence and distinguished career achievements by a Canadian professional artist in music, theatre, or dance.

      "I feel honoured," Sharman said in a press announcement. "I am also pleased to be able to devote time to writing pieces I have been thinking about for years. I am touched, too, in that my first dance collaboration with James Kudelka, Thrust, is dedicated to Walter Carsen in celebration of  his 2000 Ramon John Hnatyshyn award for volunteerism in the performing arts."

      Born in Biggar, Saskatchewan, Sharman is composer-in-residence at Early Music Vancouver’s New Music for Old Instruments program. He has also served in that role at the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Victoria Symphony, and National Youth Orchestra of Canada. 

       In addition to concert music,  Sharman writes music for cabaret, opera, and dance. He works regularly with choreographer Kudelka, for whom he has written scores for Oregon Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet, and Coleman Lemieux Compagnie (Toronto).

      Sharman was also please to share the announcement today from the council with Montreal-raised cellist Vanessa Hunt, who won the $25,000 Virginia Parker Prize, which is devoted to an artist under 32 who shows outstanding talent.

      "Her parents and I went to the Victoria Conservatory of Music together. Vanessa is also a wonderful interpreter of my work," Sharman told the Straight.

      The third winner announced today by the Canada Council will also be familiar to Vancouver audiences; rising Montreal composer and singer Gabriel Dharmoo won the $7,500 Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music. Dharmoo has seen his work featured on programs by the VSO, Music on Main, the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, and more.